Rochester, N.Y. (WROC) — Numb.
That’s how three Rochester teenagers describe their state of mind when it comes to gun violence.
News 8 had asked folks at the Boys and Girls Club of Rochester if we could talk to some regulars to get their perspective on the surge of shootings, many of them recently involving kids.
Adam Chodak ended up interviewing Kamari Smith, 17, Tamyah, Simon, 16, and Sa’Brae Gibosn, 16.
Here’s some of what said:
Adam Chodak: What’s your general take on the state of gun violence in the city right now?
Kamari Smith: I think it’s really bad and it’s just been increasing and increasing. There was gun violence before, but for the past, I don’t know, just this year there’s just been a lot of it.
AC: You live in an area where it’s been happening. What has that been like for you?
KS: It’s a little, not scary, it worries me because there’s been a lot of children getting shot and they shouldn’t have to go through that and other children shouldn’t have to worry about that.
AC: Do you know of anyone that’s been involved in anything?
KS: One of my peers at school, he was shot and killed the other day on Genesee Street.
AC: And you knew him fairly well?
KS: Yeah, I went to camp with him.
AC: What was that like for you to hear that?
KS: It was hard because at first they didn’t identify him so I had to find out through social media so when I saw it I was like, aw, it hurt me.
AC: What impact do think this will have on kids who 13, 14, 15, what impact do you think it will have on them, if any?
KS: For starters I think it’s making them think this isn’t safe around here and it starts to worry them or they might start to join the violence because they fear for their own lives so I feel like it could spiral out of control if it continues.
AC: You’ve been coming to the Boys and Girls Club for 10 years. What impact has that had on you?
KS: I always call the Boys and Girls Club my second home and I feel really safe inside these doors because I know it keeps me from outside and out of trouble so I feel safe here.
AC: Do you feel safe in the area?
Tamyah Simon: Where I live I personally feel safe, but for other kids who live more in the popular areas like Genesee Street or Flint Street, all the other streets where there’s a lot of gun action over there, I don’t think kids who live there would feel safe, but I personally feel safe where I’m at.
AC: Do you ever go walking in the evening?
TS: No, not really. I usually just walk here and if I do it’s in the morning time or when it’s daylight, I don’t ever want to be walking outside when it’s getting late, probably around 6 or 7 I wouldn’t be caught walking.
AC: What do you think about that?
TS: I think it’s personally scary especially with all the gun violence happening and it’s later in the evening, plus I’m a girl so it’s even more scary because you never know what’s going to happen to me or other women who are walking around.
AC: Do you feel like it’s unfair that you don’t get to feel safe walking in the evening?
TS: Yeah, I don’t think that’s fair. Other people can just go about their day and feel safe when they’re walking around versus other people they just don’t. I think it’s more of a safe than sorry type thing for me and other people as well.
AC: What do you think is leading the increase in gun violence?
TS: People’s homes or the environments that they’re raised in and not a lot of people having a lot of opportunities with their life or thinking they don’t have a way out of their lifestyle, that’s probably leading to these kinds of things.
AC: When you heard about the Pennsylvania Ave shooting where they shot into the crowd., did you think anything different about that than any of the other shootings?
TS: Actually my cousin was there when it happened and he’s still trying to recover from that. A lot of stuff happened there and he said that was also really scary. I could never imagine something like that happening.
AC: A lot of trauma for your cousin?
TS: One of the people he was with got shot, I think in their face or their upper area so he tried to help, but all the commotion that was going on he kind of got mixed out of the party so after that he just tried to go back and find her, but she was already gone I guess and ever since then he hasn’t heard from her so he doesn’t really know what’s going on with her right now.
AC: You live up on the north side. What’s life like for you when it comes to gun violence?
Sa’Brae Gibson: It’s pretty decent over there. I don’t really hear a lot about shootings. There was one across the street from my house in the field. They shot him and they left his body there.
AC: But that’s pretty intense to have that happen across the street from you…
SB: Yeah, it was kind of traumatic because it was like, that could have been me or my family member outside like that, but it’s probably traumatic for the family as well because they were probably just walking and boom they’re down. So that’s pretty traumatic and then for it to be right across the street from my house and only mine, it’s pretty scary.
AC: What do you think about the fact that kids your age or even younger have to deal with all this?
SB: I think it’s bad that we live our childhood being in fear of getting shot or getting snatched up or things like that so we really can’t live our childhood like we’re supposed to or adults, they can’t even be adults because they have to worry about this or worry about themselves or their family during this so it’s a lot on everyone.
AC: One thing I was wondering is if it’s become so common that it’s become a way of life where you hear about it and it doesn’t phase you, are you becoming numb in a way to what’s been happening?
SB: Yeah, I feel like I became numb a long time ago, just like, oh wow, another shooting, nothing new. I shouldn’t have that mindset, but that’s just the way it is right now. They’ve made shooting such a common thing that it happened again.
AC: Do you have a conversation about increased violence with other people?
SB: No, I think it makes people uncomfortable so I try not to have that as a topic.
AC: What are your thoughts about the Boys and Girls Club?
SB: This has been like a second home to me. I feel safe here if nowhere else. I know for sure they’re going to protect everyone at all costs here.
AC: Why do you think there is an increase in gun violence this year?
SB: I think social media has a really big impact on the way people think and people’s mindsets and popularity comes with that and they feel like they have to do this to be popular or to have friends. Social media is a really thing about that.
(Note:Gibson is considering becoming a trauma surgeon.)